Street Fighter 6’s Open World Could Transform Fighting Game Stories

The recent trailers released for Street Fighter 6 showcase a fighting game system with mechanics that blend the best elements of Street Fighter 3, 4, and 5; meanwhile, footage of the game’s new World Tour mode paints a picture of a single-player story set in the streets, alleys, and rooftops of Metro City (setting of the Final Fight beat ’em up franchise). This gameplay mode seems to borrow elements from urban sandbox games like Grand Theft Auto or Sleeping Dogsand gives Capcom developers tools for telling a fighting game story less linear, more down to earth, and less reliant on long cutscenes.

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When Street Fighter II birthed fighting game combos with an array of blocks, throws, and attacks after taking the arcade scene by storm in 1991, it also wound up codifying the structure of fighting game storylines via a minimalistic plot similar to Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon movie. In Street Fighter II, a criminal overlord and would-be world dictator called M. Bison (Vega in the original Japanese) organizes a global underground fighting tournament in order to identify (and forcibly recruit) the world’s greatest fighters; Interpol-affiliated fighters such as Chun Li and Guile enter the tournament in order to take Bison down from the inside, while dedicated Martial Artists such as Ryu, Ken, and Sagat join simply to pit themselves against mighty foes and refine their skills as martial artists . The Super Street Fighter II: Turbo update wound up introducing a difficult 1990s video game boss, Akuma (Gouki in the original Japanese), a mirror of Ryu who channels dark, murderous energies and tries to corrupt Ryu down the same path.


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Prequel games like Street Fighter Alpha series and sequels such as Street Fighter III, IVand the recent V generally follow the same Enter The Dragon template as Street Fighter II. A supernaturally powerful antagonist hosts an underground martial arts tournament or hatches a dark scheme that relies on the presence of martial artists, and the increasingly large character roster of the Street Fighter universe enters the fray for the sake of justice, profit, ambition, or the simple, pure thrill of the fight. The sandbox gameplay of Street Fighter 6s World Tour mode might just shake up this fighting game story formula, giving developers at Capcom a way to use the more exploration-focused storytelling approaches created by video game designers over the years.


Street Fighter 6 May Let Developers Show, Not Tell Their Story


A screenshot of gameplay from the upcoming game Street Fighter 6

The announcement trailer for Street Fighter 6 revealed a roster of Street Fighter mainstays like Ryu, Chun Li, and Guile, along with newer characters such as MMA fighter Luke Sullivan and Drunken Boxer Jamie. In the World Tour section of the trailer, these characters are shown navigating a sprawling urban expanse called Metro City, the setting of Capcom’s own Final Fight franchise, a side-scrolling beat’em’up game about brawlers, ninjas, cops, and mayors fighting street gangs. Street Fighter 6 looks like Final Fight in the two’s latest crossover, following a long tradition of characters from the latter appearing in the former.


Compared to its depiction in previous games, Metro City seems to have gone through a large amount of urban renewal in Street Fighter 6, and now comes across as a more colorful, graffiti-filled New York. Footage in the trailer shows a player character wandering through a Times Square-style plaza, strolling down the streets of a Chinatown, climbing ladders, fist-bumping pedestrians walking down the street, and even destroying garbage cans with a Shoryuken-style rising punch.

The World Tour gameplay footage seen in the recent announcement trailer seems to reveal a big change for Street Fighter 6 characters and story, where players select a fighter and use them to explore the sandbox environment of Metro City. Theoretically, players will be able to discover interesting world secrets, talk with noteworthy NPCs, and transition to the traditional 2D Street Fighter gameplay mode when they locate and challenge rival martial artist characters; players may even be able to find and participate in special “Car Wrecking” or “Barrel Busting” challenges in Metro City, bonus stage gameplay modes that originally came from the Final Fight franchise.


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Previous story campaigns in Street Fighter games were fairly fixed and linear, consisting of cut-scenes and still-frame comics interspersed between single-player battles against a computer-controlled character. With the open-world sandbox game mechanics of the World Tour mode, Street Fighter 6 developers have the chance to immerse players in a less-linear story where protagonist characters can challenge different rivals in any order they please, solve mysteries by picking up clues from their environment, and make choices that change Metro City for the better or worse.

Street Fighter 6 May Tell A More Intimate, Street-Level Story


In the intro cutscene of the original Street Fighter II arcade game, two random street fighters duke it out in front of a cheering crowd while the camera pans up the side of a skyscraper to reveal the game’s main logo, and this all comes well before Street Fighter II lets players beat up cars. Going by this cinematic alone, it would be easy to assume Street Fighter II is a gritty game about underground fighting rings and the blue-collar martial artists who compete for glory and cash; in practice, the Street Fighter games became a quasi-superhero franchise about martial artists who shoot energy blasts from their hands fighting against criminals, mutants, and psychic dictators with dreams of world domination.


If the single-player campaign for Street Fighter 6 does indeed exclusively take place in Metro City, it’s possible the game’s developers are hoping to create a narrative where characters confront smaller scale, street-level dangers and antagonists. Footage in the Street Fighter 6 State of Play trailer show clips of a mysterious figure whose vest has the logo of Final Fights Mad Gear street gang along with scenes where Drunken Boxer character Jamie fends off a group of thugs wearing cardboard boxes over their heads. The visual aesthetics of this Street Fighter 6 footage are consistent with a game story where the antagonists are gangs and martially potent crooks seeking control over Metro City rather than the world, though its always possible an old Street Fighter antagonists like Bison or Akuma will show up to steal the show. Still, by lowering the stakes of its narrative’s main conflict, Capcom has the chance to develop a more character-driven storyline for Street Fighter 6 – a narrative about enthusiastic brawlers and martial arts experts trying to find friendship, joy, enlightenment, and justice within the violence of an old-fashioned street fight.


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